Mohammad Ismail Hossain took up the challenge of competing in the 100m sprint just six months ago, during the Summer Athletic Championships, and the 26-year-old athlete burst onto the scene after breaking a 27-year-old national record in his first-ever sprint event at the Walton 42nd National Athletic Championships at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Representing Bangladesh Navy, Ismail took 10.2 seconds (hand-timed) to become the new fastest man in Bangladesh by eclipsing the previous best of 10.4 seconds set by Golam Ambia in 1991. The best electronically timed 100m sprint belongs to the late Mahabub Alam, who clocked 10.54 in the 1999 national athletic championships.
Ismail, who usually took part in long-jump and relay events, decided to compete in the 100m sprint last July after what he saw as double standards between disciplines annoyed him, as he hardly got any attention despite winning eight gold medals in the national championships.
He started training under coach Rafiqul Islam and crossed the first hurdle of getting the ticket to run in the 100m sprint for Bangladesh Navy by finishing first in the trial in which former fastest man Mezbah Ahmed finished third.
The Cumilla lad has finally achieved his target within six months in his first-ever run in the 100m sprint.
“Anger brought me to the 100m sprint. I had produced good results in the long jump (eight gold medals) but I was overlooked and never got access to facilities. Now I will be availing the facilities because I became the champion in the 100m sprint,” Ismail, who first entered athletics in Comilla in 2010 and also started with Navy the same year, said. “Winning a gold medal in 100m sprint seems to be equal to winning eight gold medals in the long jump. I am really enjoying the moment after winning the gold.
"I declared my intention to compete in the 100m sprint during the Summer Athletic Championships and started practice under my sir (Rafiqul). I didn't even have the special training that sprinters generally have.
“I was a bit nervous, but sir told me that I have nothing to lose and I that am running for the first time. I was initially trailing from the starting block, which is my weakness, but I started leaving others behind once I straightened my body,” explained Ismail.
“I think age is not a factor because continuing as a sprinter depends on mentality. If Justin Gatlin could beat Usain Bolt after serving a four-year suspension at the age of 29, then why can't I continue at the age of 26. If I can get the facilities, such as long-term training under a foreign coach, then I can also do something better in the SA Games, otherwise it is not possible to do better on the back of just two months' training.”
Hasan Mia of BKSP, who dethroned Mezbah in the Summer Athletics, came in second with a time of 10.3 seconds while Rakibul Hasan of Navy became third with 10.4 seconds.
In the women's event, Shirin Sultana won her eighth gold medal in the 100m sprint, clocking 11.8 seconds while Sohagi Akhter and Sharifa Khatun bagged silver and bronze medals with 11.9 and 12.3 seconds respectively.
Meanwhile, another national record was broken yesterday with Mohammad Ibrahim of Bangladesh Navy setting a new record in short-put by clearing 14.53 metres. The previous best was 14.25 meters by Mozaffar Hossain in 1997.